Glycemic Load Discussion – 3 soups compared

The Glycemic Index is touted in most updated diabetic diet information as the key to one leg of blood glucose control – healthy eating.  (The other three legs are exercise, medication and supplements, and stress reduction.)  At present the Glycemic Load which takes into account both portion size and Glycemic Index of foods seems to me the best way to judge my diet. 

Because Glycemic Load is determined by multiplying the number of net carbs in a portion by the Glycemic Index of the food, actual number of carbs is extremely important when evaluating a canned food.  In addition the Glycemic Index of a food with carbohydrates is affected by whether or not the food contains fat, protein, and especially fiber.

Today while making for my vegetarian daughter and myself our go to lunch, open-faced broiled cheese sandwiches and soup, I decided to read the labels of some soups to see which one I should have.  She had the tomato soup because it is vegetarian.  The three soups I looked at were Tomato, Chicken Noodle, and Cream of Chicken and Mushroom.

First the Tomato Soup:

1 Serving contains Fat 0 grams, Protein 2 grams, Total Carbs 20 grams, Fiber 1 gram, Net Carbs 19 grams, Calories 90.

Second the Chicken Noodle Soup:

One serving contains Fat 2 grams, Protein 3 grams, Total Carbs 8 grams, Fiber less than 1 gram, Net Carbs 8 grams, calories 60.

Third the Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soup

One serving contains, Fat 6 grams, Protein 3 grams, Total Carbs 7 grams, Fiber 4 grams, Net Carbs 3 grams, Calories 80.

All three soups have similar calories per serving.  However, the tomato soup with the highest net carbs by far, the highest calories, no fat, and a little protein will have the highest glycemic load.  Even if the glycemic index for all three soups was “1” it would have a GL of 19 and the Cream of Chicken soup would have a GL of only 3!  Chicken Noodle would be 8.

But the Glycemic Index of these soups wouldn’t be close.  The fat in the Chicken soups plus the slightly higher protein content would make them lower.  The Fiber in the Chicken and Mushroom soup is what makes it so much better.  The white-flour noodles with no fiber is the problem with the Chicken Noodle soup.

I suspect that the Glycemic Load of the Tomato soup could be as much as 10 times higher than the Chicken and Mushroom soup.

When you cannot get the actual GI or GL numbers for products I think comparing them and looking at net carbs can be very helpful.

I do know that making my own homemade chicken soup from scratch would be the best thing for me :), but sometimes there just isn’t enough time.  We diabetics should limit processed food (everyone should) but when we do use them I think it behooves us to read labels and make the best decision we can.

Note:  I checked out Cream of Mushroom soup to see if it would be a better bet for a vegetarian diabetic and it is.  It is 100 calories but the net carbs are 7 grams.  The fat content is the same as the Cream of Chicken and Mushroom at 6 grams and the protein is quite a bit less with only 1 gram.  Still the net carbs are about 1/3 in this soup compared to the Tomato soup.

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“Spanish” Quinoa

Today I tried something new that I had wanted to try – using quinoa instead of rice in a Spanish rice recipe.  I took a can of diced tomatoes with roasted garlic and drained the juice into a measuring cup.  I added water to equal 2 cups and with about 1/2 tsp salt then used it to make the quinoa (1 cup).  When it was done I stirred in the tomatoes along with about 1/2 tsp each:  ground cumin, dried oregano, chili powder, and  smoked paprika.

It was very good although I thought it needed more salt.  I have other Spanish rice recipes that I will try that use fresh tomatoes along with diced sweet peppers.  I will post that recipe soon.

I served this with refried white beans and my family had beef or soy patties.  There was also a green salad.

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Special White Bean Soup

This is another soup which uses water as its base and produces a delicious vegetarian soup which is also loved by the rest of the family.  It is adapted from Julia Child’s cookbook.  High glycemic potatoes are replaced with more beans and pasta is replaced by quinoa to lower the glycemic load.  This recipe makes 4 generous servings.

Special note for diabetics.  Read labels to note if your canned beans use any sugar.  There is only one brand in my grocery store without added sugar.  Why do we need sugar in beans?

In your soup pot, boil 1 cup diced carrots, 1 cup diced yellow onion, and 1/2 tsp salt in 1  1/2 quarts (6 cups) water for 30 minutes.  Then add 3 Tb of quinoa and continue boiling for another 10 minutes.  (40 minutes total.)

Add 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, greenbeans – no limas 🙂  ), a 14 to 16 oz can of white beans (drained and rinsed), 1 small slice of whole wheat or cracked wheat sour dough bread crumbled, ground pepper to taste, and a pinch of saffron.  Continue boiling for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile put into a blender 2 cloves of garlic, a cut up fresh tomato or a handful of grape tomatoes, 2 tsp of dried or 2 Tb fresh basil or equivelent Herbes de Provence or Italian herb mix, 1/4 cup grated cheese, 3 Tb of good olive oil.  Blend until ingredients are roughly chopped and mixed.

When the soup is ready, take about 2 cups of the soup and put into the blender with the tomato mixture and puree.  Add the contents of the blender to the soup in the pot, stir and it is ready to serve.

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French Onion Soup

This soup recipe is based on the basic onion soup recipe in Julia Child’s Original Cookbook.  I made two batches as described in “What is Parallel Cooking”.  One used beef broth and one used vegetable broth.  I think the one with vegetable broth tasted better.  Here is the recipe:

  • 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions (about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 3 Tb Butter
  • 1 Tb Oil

    Cook the onions slowing with the butter and oil in a 4 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven for 15 minutes. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to moderate and add:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar

    Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently until the onions are a deep even golden brown.  Sprinkle in

  • 3 Tb flour

    Stir for 3 minutes.

    Take off the heat.  Divide the onions into two heavy bottomed pans – 1/4 in the  for vegetarian pan and 3/4 in the beef pan.  

    To the vegetarian pan add

  • 2 cups of boiling vegetarian broth or stock and 2 Tb (1 oz) dry white wine.

    To the Beef pan add

  • 1 1/2 quarts boiling beef broth and 6 Tb (3 oz) dry white wine.

    Season both with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer pots partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes more.

    To serve, sprinkle grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese in each bowl to taste.

    The total amount of liquid that needs to be added is 2 quarts (8 cups) plus 1/2 cup (8 Tb) dry white wine.

    This makes 6 to 8 servings.  Each serving equals one vegetable, 1/4 startch, and 2 tsp fat.

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    Chili Mac

    The two issues for my vegetarian and I with this dish are that I shouldn’t have too much pasta and we need to keep the proteins separate. An easy solution is to substitute beans for half of the macaroni and make the sauce separate from the ground beef. We had this last night and it was delicious served with a huge tossed garden salad.

    Chili Mac 4 Servings

    • 4 – 5 oz macaroni or penne
    • A 15 1/2 oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes in puree
    • A 15 1/2 oz can of beans: black beans, kidney, or red beans, drained
    • 12 oz of ground beef
    • 3 oz of soy crumbles, thawed
    • 2 to 4 oz cheddar or jack cheese, grated
    • 1/2 small onion, chopped
    • 1 to 2 cloves garlic crushed or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • Tapatio or other hot pepper sauce 1/2 to 1 tsp
    • 1/2 to 1 tsp Ground Cumin
    • 1/2 to 1 tsp Oregano
    • 2 tsp or more Chili Powder
    • 1/2 to 1 tsp Smoked Paprika (optional)
    • Salt and Pepper to taste

    Cook the pasta according to package directions. Altitude makes quite a difference. We are at 4500 feet so we have to add at least 2 minutes to the directions. When pasta is done drain and then put back in hot pan for a minute to dry it. (Other ingredients will be ready to add at this point.)

    Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan heat the tomatoes, spices, and beans. Allow to simmer and taste carefully before adding to pasta. Adjust seasonings to your liking.

    At the same time, brown the ground beef (chuck tastes best) in olive or canola oil. Add the chopped onion and cook until beef loses its pink. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

    Just before everything is done, heat the soy crumbles in the microwave.

    Add the sauce to the pasta in its pan. Mix in cheese. To be fancier – put pasta in a sering bowl. Meat eaters should add between 1/2 to 3/4 cup ground beef to their pasta. This recipe serves one vegatarian. A diabetic should take 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of the pasta mixture and 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup ground beef.

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    St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

    This was the first time I cooked a corned beef dinner without a crockpot. Usually everything was mushy. I cooked the vegetables separately and it was very successful.


    • A corned beef brisket with a spice packet or a 3 to 4 pound corned beef brisket and 2 Tb. of pickling spice.
    • A 1/4 head of cabbage for each person
    • A medium carrot for each person
    • A red potato for each person
    • Water with 1 – 2 Tb pickling spice


    Cook the brisket in water with the spice packet or pickling spices in a dutch oven on top of the stove for one hour per pound.

    About an hour before meat will be done, heat up a large sauce pan or soup pan with water. Add 1 –

    2 Tb of pickling spice to the water. Slice the cabbage into fairly large pieces.

    When the water comes to a boil, add the cabbage and simmer gently for 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove to a serving dish and keep warm.

    Meanwhile cut the carrots into 2 inch chunks and halve or quarter the red potatoes depending on the size. Add the carrots and potatoes to the cabbage water and cook for 20 minutes until fork tender. Add to the cabbage serving dish.

    Slice the brisket and place on a separate serving dish.

    Serve with sour dough bread, or Irish Soda Bread, or biscuits.

    (originally posted on March 27th, 2010)

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    Apple Rosemary Couscous or Quinoa

    This recipe is based on one on the Near East brand website. They claimed it made 4 servings – it was more like 10 LOL. My son didn’t like it because he had a problems with garlic and apples in the same dish. My husband and daughter loved it as did I. My husband used the leftovers to make some kind of chicken curry experiment that was also terrific.

    I served it the first time with fresh salmon steamed in foil with lime slices and steamed sweet peppers. Tonight we are having it with pork chops.


    • 1 Tb olive oil
    • 3/4 cup chopped onion
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 13 oz boiling water with a Tb of V-8 juice (or 1- 13 3/4 can chicken or vegetable broth)
    • 1 tsp dried rosemary or 2 tsp fresh rosemary
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1 cup plain couscous
    • 1/3 cup raisins
    • 2 medium tart red apples, unpeeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces


    Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 or 3 minutes stirring constantly.
    Add broth, rosemary and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
    Stir in couscous and raisins. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
    Fluff couscous with a fork. Gently stir in apples. Cover and let stand for 3 minutes.
    If we call this 8 servings: one serving has 25 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber, 130 calories, 2 grams of fat.

    I haven’t tried it without the raisins yet but leaving them out could reduce carbs.

    Tonight made this with quinoa. Quinoa is a terrific grain because it is high in protein and a whole grain. In this recipe instead of bringing everything to a boil and then adding the grain and removing from the heat, quinoa simmers for 12 minutes and then sits for 15 minutes. My husband, who has hated nearly every “healthy” food I have inflicted on him in the last 35 years, liked this a lot. So Quinoa it is – the 4 grams of complete protein per serving will be great for my daughter. )

    (originally posted on February 3rd, 2010)

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    Best Potato Soup

    This is the only soup recipe I have ever tried that my whole family likes. Actually, I don’t think my husband has ever liked any of my homemade soups before. It is based on a recipe in Julia Child’s original cookbook. Most such soup recipes require chicken broth, but this one only uses water which makes it fit into my parallel cooking easily.

    Onion and Potato Soup

    Simmer in a large pot partly covered for 40 to 50 minutes.

    • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 1 pound peeled and sliced yellow onions
    • 2 cups of diced carrots
    • 2 quarts of water
    • 1 Tablespoon salt.

    Smash vegetables and add

    • 1 or 2 cups shredded cabbage

    and continue simmering for 10 or 15 minutes. Then add:

    • 1 cup diced tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup whipping cream

    And serve. YUM!

    Nutrition information: 1 starch (about 15 g Carbs), 2 vegetables, and 2 tsp fat.

    (originally posted on February 2nd, 2010)

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    Dolly’s Taco Salad

    My mother grew up in East LA in the 1920s. She learned this recipe which was called Tostadas Compuestas from her neighbors. Originally it used home-made Tortilla Chips (this was decades before Doritos) and was topped with Cheese Sauce. In the 40s and 50s my brother’s friends would offer to mow my mother’s extensive lawns if she would make this for them. She cooked in Mexican Restaurants (she was also a school cook) and we had Mexican Food at home when none of my friends did. Unfortunately she died before I pinned down her enchilada recipe.

    When Fritos came on the market she substituted them for the tortilla chips. Each ingredient is cooked separately and then each diner piles up what they want. I recently prepared this for 80 people, several of whom were vegetarians. It is possible that this is my family’s favorite meal. My husband added the olives, avocado, and sour cream.


    • Original Fritos Corn Chips
    • Cooked Rice
    • Canned Kidney Beans (or black beans) undrained and heated with Chili Powder
    • Ground Beef cooked with Onions, Salt and Pepper, and Ground Cumin
    • (Soy crumbles cooked with Mexican Seasoning)
    • Grated Cheese: Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack
    • Shredded Lettuce
    • Chopped Tomatoes
    • Sliced Olives (optional)
    • Avocado or Guacamole (optional)
    • Sour Cream (optional)

    Here is the way I like it piled up: smash a small handful of corn chips on the plate, add the rice and then the meat, sprinkle on the cheese so it will melt, add the beans and then the lettuce and tomatoes.

    My daughter just skips the meat or cooks up some soy crumbles with Mexican Seasoning.

    This can also be made with leftover cooked chicken.

    Note: my mother mixed the beans in with the meat but over the years I have met many people who don’t eat beans.

    (originally posted on February 2nd, 2010)

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    Mediterranean Chicken Menu

    Here is today’s menu and how we turned it into parallel cooking. This menu uses shared side dishes and saving out something for sauce for the vegetarian patty.

    I developed this recipe during a “cook from your pantry” challenge which included stuff in the freezer. Someone with access to it added an ingredient and published it in a cookbook but …stuff happens LOL

    There are only three ingredients:

    Any package of chicken, thighs seem to taste best, bone-in or boneless, skin on or skinless, whatever you have.

    A can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilis. Other brands will not taste right because Rotel has secret family ingredients. (My son had a college roommate from Tokyo who loved this recipe and was sad when he couldn’t get Rotel in Japan.)

    A can of black olives, drained.

    Put it all in a crock pot and cook for 8 to 10 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high. Serve with rice, noodles, pasta, polenta, couscous, or bulgur.

    We are having it with polenta tonight. Yum. We will also have a big salad with vinaigrette dressing and fruit for dessert.

    (Originally posted on February 2nd, 2010)

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